WASHINGTON, DC (July 13, 2015) – The Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) applauds the White House for convening the 2015 White House Conference on Aging to focus on the most transformational issue of the 21st century – the aging of America’s population. The Conference will serve as a marker for the United States demonstrating how we as a nation can most effectively address the aging of our population, which is already having a major impact on all countries around the world. Shining light on the challenges and opportunities associated with our aging society is the first step toward maximizing the potential of longer lives and the related aging of the population.
“Aging is undoubtedly the most consequential megatrend of our time, and it stretches far beyond public policy and election cycles,” said Michael W. Hodin, CEO of the Global Coalition on Aging. “Too often people think aging is simply an issue for the elderly. But this demographic shift impacts the young as well as the old and has serious implications for the future of American economic growth, wealth creation, and prosperity.”
The outlook is clear: By 2020, there will be 1 billion people over 60 years old worldwide, with implications for working longer, retiring differently, and staying more active and healthy across the life course. In America alone, labor force participation for those over 65 grew from 12% to 19% between 1990 and 2013, leading to the expansion of our country’s human capital potential and a new source for sustaining economic growth. Further, by 2017, Americans over 60 will hold more than 70% of all disposable income, which is a dramatic indicator that viewing and treating America’s older demographic differently than in past decades is a must.
Further, as Americans work longer, caregivers who balance work and caring for an aging loved one are increasing in number, extremely stretched and in need of new and innovative approaches to tackle these challenges. In America today, there are approximately seven caregivers for every person over 80 – a number that is projected to fall below three by 2050. And, to exacerbate the condition of eldercare in America, there is an anticipated shortage of 1 million nurses in the U.S. in the next five years.
“When it comes to care, seniors and their family caregivers simply need to have choices for how and where they receive that care,” said Jeff Huber, President and CEO of Home Instead Senior Care. “Twentieth-century care models are now obsolete, and it is time we developed a long-term plan to meet the growing care need in this country. If done properly, America can also serve as a model for the rest of the world where the gap between supply of professional elder caregivers and need is exploding.”
GCOA’s work is centered on three areas: the silver economy, active and healthy aging, and care – all which focus on how to enable the aging population through 21st century innovation. GCOA applauds the Conference for addressing its four key issues of healthy aging, long term services and supports, elder justice, and retirement security through this same lens, which will also be reinforced by a number of GCOA members who will be participating.
“This period of longevity revolution we’re living in requires that we rethink traditional and outdated notions of work, retirement and later life planning considering many of us will live 20 to 30 years longer than generations past,” said Andy Sieg, Head of Global Wealth & Retirement Solutions at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “We need bold new thinking, innovation and leadership from the private and public sectors alike. We are pleased to participate in the White House Conference on Aging to help frame the conversation and actions to be taken to better meet the needs of our aging population during the decades ahead. As a founding member of the Global Coalition on Aging, we are proud to represent its optimistic perspective on turning longevity into an asset for America.”
GCOA continues to lead the dialogue on aging with global governments, NGOs, industry, and academics. GCOA’s next global summit will be in Shenyang, P.R. China this month and will focus on the role for age-friendly cities and a life course approach to skin health to promote and enable healthy and active aging. “Nestlé Skin Health has been collaborating with GCOA since its founding in 2011 to advance a healthier and more active aging – not only for the 1 billion of us over 60, but for today and tomorrow’s young population who will face skin challenges as they experience longevity into their 80, 90s, and even past 100,” said Humberto Antunes, CEO, Nestlé Skin Health, a GCOA founding member. “We, too, applaud the WHCOA for raising the level of dialogue and understanding around healthy and active aging for America in the 21st century.”
“America’s aging population does not just affect the elderly, it affects everyone. The implications are profound and far-reaching, including individuals, families, employers, government programs, and even our culture,” said Catherine Collinson, President of the Transamerica Institute, a nonprofit private foundation, and Executive Director of Aegon Center for Longevity and Retirement. “Working together, policy makers, academia, nonprofits, and industry can successfully address the issues, while creating innovative new solutions that will improve the lives of Americans and ultimately strengthen our society.”
“Public policy, corporate strategies, and societal responses will determine how we make the changes needed to meet the challenges of living longer and an increasing aging population,” said Hodin. “We are confident in the promise and unbound opportunity ahead, but it means aligning individual and public changes to the realities of 21st century aging. If the WHCOA can be a step in this direction, we will have achieved a great deal at the Conference. Our members stand ready to work in partnership with the White House in the days and months following the Conference.”